Thursday, October 25, 2007

M31 - the Andromeda Galaxy (in progress)

Now that the full moon is blazing brightly in the night sky (made even brighter by being in perigee) I am taking some time to go back over the images of M31 collected two weeks ago under the dark skies of the new moon. I spent two nights in a row collecting 5 minute, 3 minute, and one minute exposures at ISO 800. In hindsight I should have just taken a lot of 5 minute exposures and a few short ones, but I was curious if I could get close to the same result with a lot of 3-minute exposures. There was no contest - the 5-minute subs resulted in a much better image than lots more shorter subs. Eventually I will work up a comparison. I got to a stopping point last week with the stack of 5-minute subs, and decided to take a break for a while and come back later with a fresh start. Here's the result of that previous work:

It's a pretty good image, I think, but maybe it could be better? Maybe I've been looking at it too much and noticing all the flaws. I'll keep reading "Photoshop Astronomy" and going through the tutorials provided with ImagesPlus to get some ideas. I still have lots to learn about image processing. The above image was mostly the result of a few Levels and Curves adjustments in Photoshop, along with a high-pass filter mask.
Looking back at where I was a year ago while just starting out, I believe I have improved quite a bit. Here is last years M31 - my first:

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